Angie: The Sports Authority

Welcome to Angie's sports blog! My interesting and funny articles will show you the most recent and interesting news in the sports world.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Football: Sensational Spain reach the Final of the European Cup

Cesc Fabregas proved to be a world class player. He scored a hat-trick of set-ups to send Spain leaping into the final three goals ahead of a beleaguered Russian team.

The Spaniard team gave a amazing lecture of football. Their performance was so impressive that the Russian team was reduced to a simple worthless team in 90 minutes. And Aragones' side is now the favorite one to win the European Title.

Coming on as a substitute, Fabregas initiated a skilful one-two pass with Xavi Hernandez after 50 minutes and then repeated the trick with Daniel Guiza and David Silva at 73 and 82 minutes respectively.

The Spaniards, however, didn't occupy any advantage on ball possession until 19 minutes into the second half and a tight defence from both teams meant a well-fought but goalless first half.

Germany received their place in the final after a 3-2 victory over surprise semi-finalists Turkey.

This Sunday, the two nations will face to earn the crown, in a match the many people will never forget.

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Tennis: Nadal wins at Wimbledon, after a tough game with Gulbis

If you want to defeat Spanish star Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon, you must serve so perfectly that the popular Rafa never gets the slightest chance to break you, and then pounce on one of his rare mistakes to break him.

It's not easy, though: the perfection and the pouncing are the hard bits. However, for three-quarters of an hour on Court No 1, Ernests Gulbis ensured that his eminent opponent, one of the finest returners of serve in the world, did not have a way into the game.

In a first set lasting 47 minutes, the unsung young Latvian gave up just four points on his serve. His combination of precision and power, and the proficiency of his ground strokes in the rare rallies, had the world No 2 scratching his bandana-adorned head and, on two occasions, picking himself up off the floor.

Rafa Nadal was not troubled on his own serve, either: as if the match was a throwback to the 1970s, there was not a single break point until the 12th game, when Nadal suddenly found himself in real trouble.

The Spaniard defended a series of deuces, but Gulbis kept up the pressure and when last year's runner-up hit a forehand long he found himself a set down. And Nadal was in trouble on his serve early in the second set as well, but pulled himself together and instead it was Gulbis who started to make mistakes.

In fact, the Riga-born right-hander does not turn 20 until next month, and does not yet have the mental discipline to accompany his undoubted talents.

Nadal wrapped up the second set in a straightforward manner, but Gulbis was not about to let him saunter off with the match. Regrouping, the teenager showed great tenacity and was two points away from taking the third set before his muscle-bound opponent secured and quickly won the tie-break.

Indeed, the Majorcan was in command in the fourth set as Gulbis tired, and Nadal moved smoothly through to the third round, where he will face Nicolas Kiefer, of Germany.

The No 2 seed revealed that he had been a man on a mission. "My special motivation was to get home early to watch the football (the european cup)," he admitted.

The key factor in Nadal's successful quest to get back to the hotel in time for the kick-off was his tactical nous. Realising that his opponent's serve might be decisive, Rafa dropped yards back from the baseline to receive.

It's interesting to notice that this made it much easier for him to initiate rallies, playing to his strengths. Nadal was effectively saying "Let's pretend we're playing on clay", and it seems that Gulbis did not twig what was going on until it was too late.

As Nadal put it: "Later I go little bit behind and I felt like I had little bit more control of the situation there, no? I can play the first shot with more time, playing normal shot, but starting the point."

As for Gulbis, he was greatly encouraged by his performance. He played good tennis against Novak Djokovic at the French Open but still lost in straight sets. Now he has tested himself against another great force in the contemporary game, and measured up very well.

"I'm really happy because it was a great experience for me," he said. "I'm really happy that I could play more or less in the same level. I'm really happy that I can compete with the top players. I think that's for me the most important thing right now, to be confident."

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